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Coney Island Bunny

Steeplechase, Coney Island Bunny Rescued after 21 Days on the Run. January 26, 2014. Photo © Jozefa Cheman

Steeplechase, the Coney Island “coney” rescued after 21 days on the run, posed for her first official photo today. Want to “Save Coney” and give Steeplechase the bunny a home? This refugee from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden will be up for adoption after she is spayed next week.

William Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab successfully “netted” the rabbit, whom he named Steeplechase, on January 18th after ten days of trying to befriend her with bananas and other treats.

“She is scheduled to be spayed next Wednesday,” said Leung, who visited the shy bunny today at New York City’s Animal Care and Control. Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, is the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits,” Leung said.

A list of bunnies up for adoption in New York City is on the group’s petfinder page. Email nyc.metro.rabbits@gmail.com if you are interested in adopting Steeplechase.

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January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Rabbit Rescue

Runaway Bunny Netted in Coney Island by William Leung of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab. January 18, 2014

The runaway bunny from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden was finally rescued today after 21 days surviving on its own. “Just caught it, here is a bunny ball!” said William Leung in a text message with an accompanying photo at 4pm on Saturday. He named the rabbit Steeplechase, after the famous amusement park.

Coney Island was of course named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. But this white bunny with black ears is a Californian breed of domestic rabbit and has lived her entire life outdoors in the boardwalk garden. “It’s a girl, 7.8 lbs, all those carrots!” Leung said. After the rabbit ran off when the garden was bulldozed by developer iStar on December 28, she was seen intermittently, usually after dark.

Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, has spent the last 10 days trying to catch the elusive bunny with the help of gardener Carolyn McCrory “I’m exhausted,” he said when ATZ phoned on Saturday morning to ask how it was going. The Queens resident has been traveling once or twice daily from Astoria to Coney Island to leave food, water and shelter in an attempt to befriend and net the rabbit before the bitter cold temps return. Fellow rabbit owner Mindy Jackson also helped to feed the rabbit during the ten day ordeal.

Coney Island Bunny

Coney Island Bunny hiding out. January 16, 2013. Photo © William Leung

If you’re wondering How to Catch a Stray Bunny, Rabbit Rescue and Rehab says it may take several attempts before the bunny is comfortable enough to let you anywhere near him. Among the suggestions: “Sit or lie down and have carrots and alfalfa hay and banana on hand. Do not overfeed the bunny and do not leave these treat items behind for him—you want him to crave these special foods and you want him to associate them with only you. You also do not want him to gorge on them and thus not be interested when you return to try to catch him again.”

While the banana worked like a charm with another bunny, the Coney Island coney was Leung’s most difficult rescue yet, he says. First of all, the rabbit kept returning to its former home in the bulldozed garden but the site managers for amphitheater developer iStar Financial would not allow Leung access to the site, claiming liability issues. People who came to feed the feral cats inadvertently upset his plan to herd the bunny when they cut holes in the mesh fence for the cats, which the bunny also used to escape. After neighbors harassed him on Thursday, Leung grew increasingly frustrated with the situation, but said he would go out again this weekend. Luckily, he was successful today.

Rabbit Rescue and Rehab is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization whose primary goals are to rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent indoor homes for them as well as to educate the public and assist humane societies. “We’re the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC,” says Leung, referring to New York City’s Animal Care and Control. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits.”

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January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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Runaway rabbit

Runaway bunny returns to bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden. January 7, 2013. Photo by Carolyn McCrory

The rabbit and the cats who ran off during the December 28th pre-dawn bulldozing of the Coney Island Community Garden, where they were cared for by the gardeners, have been spotted. “It is so sad to see them sitting on the barren land,” said Carolyn McCrory, who sent us a photo of the yet-to-be-rescued bunny, a white rabbit with black ears.

It’s distressing to imagine a domestic rabbit left to fend for itself in wintry Coney Island. All the more so because the place was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. This runaway rabbit, who fled when developer iStar bulldozed the garden after Christmas to make way for an amphitheater project, is the only one of its kind. He went back to the garden looking for shelter but found none. Did the bunny survive yesterday’s freeze? [Update: After several sightings, the bunny was finally “netted” by a rescuer on January 18th and is safe.]

Coney Island Kittens

Kittens from community garden ended up at ACC, where one was euthanized and these two were rescued by Empty Cages Collective. December 30, 2013.

Another sad story is that of a mother cat, a calico who has been seen returning repeatedly to the bulldozed lot looking for her kittens. As ATZ previously reported, when a gardener collected her chickens she also walked off with three kittens. As it turns out, the next morning a cat carrier with the kittens was left on the boardwalk in front of the demolished garden. Pleas for help were posted on Facebook but before a rescuer could get there, the carrier was picked up by the City’s Animal Care and Control, which is a kill shelter.

PJ McCosky of Empty Cages Collective, who has recently rescued several cats in Coney Island, was alerted and rushed to ACC to save them. One sickly kitten had already been euthanized. The other two kittens were rescued and are now in the care of Empty Cages foster homes. The kittens were about four weeks old when found and need to be bottle fed.

Empty Cages Collective is an all-volunteer organization. You can support the work they do for New York City’s animals by donating or volunteering to become a foster home and following their Facebook page.

Coney Island Kitten

Kitten from bulldozed community garden brought to ACC and rescued by Empty Cages Collective. December 30, 2013.

Since ATZ began covering Coney Island in 2009, the colonies of cats have been pushed farther west by the dismantling of Astroland and the demolition of vacant buildings such as the Henderson and the Playland Arcade. The construction on the Boardwalk at West 21st Street is causing further displacement. While there are many people feeding the cats, there is much more that needs to be done. With the new year and the new pro-animal rights administration of Mayor de Blasio, we would like to see a program modeled on Alley Cat Allies Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project. Since 2000, the national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats has cared for the feral cat colonies along the boardwalk as part of a city-supported Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. According to their website, Atlantic City Boardwalk’s famous cats draw visitors and admirers from all over the country. Can’t we do the same for cats on the Coney Island Boardwalk?

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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December 27, 2013: Coney Island Mama Cat ‘Okaasan’ & Kittens Up for Adoption

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

January 24, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

January 26, 2011: Photo of the Day: Henderson Music Hall Cats Now Homeless

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